[Sca-cooks] Murri

lilinah at earthlink.net lilinah at earthlink.net
Mon Aug 29 23:23:42 PDT 2011

Sue Boone <caitrionarussell at hotmail.com> wrote:
> I'm looking for help with a source or recipe for Murri.
> The Barony of Aquaterra will be hosting Ursalmas in January. We will be having a feast 
> after the main action Saturday night and the Lady in charge of the feast has been 
> convinced to use soy sauce instead of Murri. <<

Galefridus gave some good information about murri. I'll add a little more.

Charles Perry said his homemade batch of murri made from scratch tasted like soy sauce made with a lot of wheat and less soy. Not just any cheap soy sauce will do - definitely avoid any soy sauce made primarily of hydrolyzed (soy/vegetable) protein.

I also had some of Michael's murri - it was thin and light colored - pale warm brown - and very salty; it reminded me of Thai fish sauce - ok, yes, it wasn't fishy tasting, but Thai fish sauce isn't all that fishy, just very salty and umami. (soy sauce is quite umami, of course, and i suspect real murri was, too)

I think that perhaps a blend of soy sauce made with wheat and of Thai fish sauce might be a good substitute - although both soy and fish are potential allergens.

Here are two recipes for murri from al-Baghdadi's cookbook, dated 1226:

Charles Perry says, "All the recipes concur that budhaj (rotted barley) was made from barley flour (or a mixture of barley and wheat) kneaded without leaven or salt. Loaves of this dough were rotted, generally in closed containers for 40 days, and then dried and ground into flour for further rotting into the condiments." 

(First recipe)
Take 5 ratls each of budhaj (rotted barley) and flour. Make the flour into a good dough without leaven or salt, bake, and leave until dry. Then grind up fine with the budhaj, knead into a green trough with a third the quantity of salt, and put out into the sun for 40 days in the heat of the summer, kneading every day at dawn and evening, and sprinkling with water. When black, put into conserving jars, cover with an equal quantity of water, stirring morning and evening: then strain it into the first murri. Add cinnamon, saffron and some aromatic herbs. 

(Second recipe)
Take budhaj (rotted barley) and wheat or barley flour, make into a dry dough with hot water, using no leaven or salt, and bake into a loaf with a hole in the middle. Wrap in fig leaves, stuff into a preserving-jar, and leave in the shade until fetid. Then remove and dry. 

And here are Perry's original articles from 1998 on his experience making murri from scratch:
1. What Rot!
2. Still Rotting...
3. OK, It's Rotted--Is It Safe?
4. Rot of Ages: A medieval rotted sauce lives again

There is also a recipe for Murri Naqi aka Byzantine or False Murri in the Kitab Wasf al-At'ima al-Mu'tada (The Book of the Description of Familiar Foods), dated 1373. I have tasted the version made by Duke Cariadoc. It was not salty enough, in my opinion, and a bit bitter.

> (Also, she's also replacing Saffron with Turmeric because "Saffron is the most 
> expensive spice in the world." We'll work on that.) <<

Oh, dear, there is NO substitute for saffron. It is not just a coloring agent. If that were the case then turmeric or safflower would suffice. But they absolutely do NOT. Saffron adds a very distinctive and specific flavor to dishes, as well as the translucent golden color. Would she substitute a flavorless brown powder for cinnamon?

Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
the persona formerly known as Anahita

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